Despite rumors of political conspiracy, county supervisors said Tuesday that technological difficulties have delayed the delivery of Gila County’s property tax notices. Five counties, including Gila, are affected because they all operate under the same system.
“I can assure folks from the board of supervisors’ end that there is absolutely no politics” involved, said Supervisor Jose Sanchez. Supervisors disputed allegations that they delayed notices to give them an edge this election season.
“Why would you wait until you receive your tax bill to decide who you’re going to vote for?” wondered treasurer Debi Savage.
“The spin is unbelievable,” said Supervisor Tommie Martin.
The treasurer’s office will send tax notices as quickly as possible, though that date is still unknown, according Savage. Property tax payments will not be due until Dec. 1.
Martin said tax notices should have been sent out Sept. 1. Supervisors said they only discovered the delay last week.
“We’re all county, but we’re not all tied together,” Martin said. “As a citizen, when the bill comes, I pay it … As an elected official in a different area, I had no clue.”
Savage estimated that roughly half of property owners pay their taxes electronically, on top of their mortgage payments.
To compensate for the 50 percent of property taxes that will be late, the county has asked special districts like fire districts not to make large expenditures.
These special districts have their own lines of credit, Savage said Tuesday.
Should the districts need to make purchases on credit, the supervisors have agreed to pay any interest incurred from the loan. Martin also said loans from the county are possible.
Pine Strawberry Fire Chief Bob Lashua said the delay won’t affect him. “It just puts things off for a little while,” he said.
Planned purchases will likely be stalled a month. “Other than that, it’s business as usual,” Lashua added.
Savage said the glitch’s source was a new bill format required by the new system. One person from Navajo County was overseeing the five counties — Greenlee, Navajo, Gila, Apache and Santa Cruz — that pooled resources to purchase a mass appraisal system.
“I think he thought that it was going to be an easy fix,” Savage said. But, “I’m definitely not pointing fingers.”
On Tuesday, county officials said they wanted to ensure the problem did not reoccur. Savage suggested hiring another staff person so the county could print their own tax bills. She later said first-year glitches are common.